An interview with Dr. Morteza Mirdar:

The Need for More Female Memoirists to Pay Attention to the Field of the Islamic Revolution

The oral history of the revolution in the Islamic Revolution Document Center – 2

Interview and compilation: Faezeh Sasanikhah
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


Note: The Islamic Revolution Document Center is an active institute in collecting the history of the Islamic revolution. The center now has one of the richest archives in the field of the history of the Islamic Revolution. To get acquainted with how this center was established and its activities, we interviewed Dr. Morteza Mirdar, the Deputy of Oral History of the Islamic Revolution Document Center.. The first part of the interview was about the purpose and insights of the center. The second part is mentioned as follows:

■How active and concerned is the Islamic Revolutionary Documentation Center in the field of women?

The role of women in the victory of the revolution has two functions: an educational function and a field and operational function, which deals with female fighters who went to prison, and we identified a number of them and collected their memoirs. Of course, I have to say that some of these women had a so-called different historical view and they say that they went everywhere during the revolutionary struggle. After the revolution, they contradicted the view that culture and religion have towards women and says, as a student group, how would they go to someplace along with two or three men. They get to doubt the behavior of that time. I found it from several interviews that I had with these women! For example, a woman says that I was imprisoned and interrogated in prison by a SAVAK officer who once pulled my headscarf; is this jihad obligatory for women if we consider this as the prelude to jihad? Today, 40 years after the revolution, and they review those days, they get doubts. The flaw that now exists in the historiography of the Islamic Revolution is that this field has become masculine and the masculinity of this field deprives us of dealing with many subjects. The women who are a researcher and are interested in history should fill this gap and prevent the history of revolution to be a masculine one.  I don’t seek the masculine and feminine history, But in fact, it is better for the interviewer to be a woman in parts of the narratives of the ladies, because they are uncomfortable with the male interviewer. In the talks that I had with the ladies, I felt very often that they are not comfortable with me, but when a woman's researcher is sitting against them, he can ask about a lot of events of prison and the behavior of SAVAK officers and make a better answer. As an example, I interviewed one of the ladies and said:" I gave birth my child in prison." Well, I quickly skipped my words, but if the interviewer was a woman, I would be more comfortable, and she might ask about this issue, and on the other hand, the narrator also could express immoral activities against the women. I want to say that a female researcher can easily review the subjects in detail.

■At the beginning of the revolution, Jamileh Bupasha's memoirs were very famous, but we have not seen an equivalent or similar to these memoirs in Iran; Is it possible that our women fighters were not tortured in SAVAK prisons?

It is mentioned to some extent in Ms. Dabbagh's memoirs. On the other hand, in some parts, neither female narrator of the revolution can express all the insults that have been inflicted on them, nor are the scholars comfortable in writing it. However, it is difficult for religious women to express this issue. Jamile Bupasha did not have this limitation and could say many things. In my experience, women who went to prison during the revolution are less willing to speak out; they tell only parts of those memories. On the other hand, they are worried about the criticism of others to say that fighting against these conditions was a man's work, and Why we expose ourselves to this!? For this reason, we have tried to examine that since 1977 when there were a general movement and women could organize women and even men or were active in writing announcements, letters and statements, there were still shortcomings in this period. As an instance, many of those who were martyred in the incident of 17 Shahrivar (8 September) are women and their rights must be respected.

■How successfully do you think you have been in achieving your goals?

We do not have a government budget and it does not help us anywhere and we work according to the facilities we have. I have been working at the Islamic Revolution Documentation Center for two decades and I give myself 90 out of 100 scores according to our conditions and facilities. Our team researchers work with little research budget, and, with their passion and motivation, and with the research money we give to researchers, no one is willing to cooperate. Therefore, compared to other research institutes in the country, we pay a very small amount to researchers, but on the contrary, we see that there is a blessing in our work that we have published about 1400 titles of books. However, we know that our books have strengths and weaknesses and need to be critiqued to be strengthened. About the Islamic Revolution in the cities when the amount we give is 15 million Toman (Iranian currency) and in some cities such as Qom, Tehran and Isfahan a team must be formed to work for 5 years, 10 years, what can we expect from a researcher with the amount of 15 million Toman to gather not only the documentation but also provide oral history and library sources in Isfahan. I give 90 out of 100 scores to the Islamic Revolution Documentation Center considering the limitation of facilities and other problems we have.

■Do you have any training programs in the training center?

We almost outsource more work and have more of an oversight role. About 800 authors have worked with us. These people have gone to universities and are present in cultural centers. This movement feels a sense of religion and duty towards the Revolutionary Documentation Center and says that this gap should be filled and strengthened. For this reason, even if she is a new writer, we work with her/him respect and value her /him, and we support her in each of the cities where she works, and we set her on this path.

■How does the documentation center relate to the academic environment? How much did he try to share his findings with the university atmosphere?

The answer to this question must be found in the review of student dissertations. Because, if you look at the list of sources for dissertations and researches that are done in universities, whether the student accepts us or not, you will see 10 to 15 sources, which are used in it, are related to our books. Our work has even been used in the writing of educational textbooks. I looked at a list and saw that out of the 150 books they cited as a source, 35 were our books, which shows they are used as sources without wanting someone to follow and use our work. On the other hand, we see that some appropriate dissertations with good frameworks are written. If these students come to the documentation center, we will support these dissertations, and we will support in terms of documents and finances, and we will publish them after they have defended their dissertations.

■Is making the documentary in the plans of the Islamic Revolution Documentation Center?

Yes. In a historical period, the text was more important, but people have been more interested in historical documents for a decade. We are the consultant of many historical documents related to the Islamic Revolution and we have produced some historical documents ourselves.

■Thank you for taking your time to visit the Iranian Oral History website.

Thank you, too.



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